Students respond to midterms

Julia Battishill

Bipartisan reactions to elections

This was a very strange election with both parties probably feeling conflicted about the results.” political science professor Dr. Caleb Henry summarized.
The midterm elections, whose results started coming in on the evening of Nov. 6 and continued into the next day, were a highly anticipated event on the Seattle Pacific University campus.

Afterwards, political science students and staff had much to say in regard to the results they had long anticipated and speculated about.

“Well the first thing I would say about the midterm elections is it was underwhelming,” said Liam Smith, a political science student and student senator for Arnett Hall.

Smith feels that the results were not necessarily extremely positive or extremely negative. Instead, he says that they were generally full of small shifts and close calls.

“What everyone would thought would be a blue wave turned out to be a blue ripple. Sure the Democrats were able to take the House, but they did not pick up as many seats as they thought they would,” Smith explained.

Samuel Scott, a SPU student pursuing a BA in political science, philosophy and economics, commented about the Democratic results on a more regional level.

“The Democrats … looked surprisingly strong in the governor races, especially in three of the states that were key from Trump’s win in 2016: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin,” Scott said.

The most major victory on the left side of the aisle was the shift in the House. The House and the Senate were both previously majority Republican, and now the House has changed to majority Democrat.

“One thing a blue House serves to do is put a check on the President….The House Ways and Means Committee could seize Trump’s tax returns,” Smith said.

The Democratic party has been discussing the desire to see the president’s tax returns since before he took office in January 2017. With control of the House, they have the power necessary to demand the documents.

This result was not terribly surprising for those who regularly study the science of elections, such as SPU’s political science students.

“This election was not incredibly shocking. Yes, the Democrats took the House, but given President Trump’s low approval ratings and polling before the election that was hardly surprising,” Scott remarked.

On the Republican side, the Senate remained in their control and they actually gained a few more Senate seats.

“Republicans did well for a midterm election,” Henry explained. “Gaining seats in the Senate was more important for Republicans than keeping the House, since it will be easier to continue appointing judges.”

Professor Reed Davis of SPU’s Political Science Department, also noticed this trend on the red side.

“It looks like Republicans took a beating in the suburbs (Dino Rossi is exhibit #35),”Davis said.

He continued, saying, “What remains to be seen is if the suburbs are in Trump’s or the GOP’s future calculations, or whether he is going to continue to build on his blue collar base.”

More than anything, all sources agreed that what happened in the House, the Senate, and even in local elections can show us what each side might need to do to succeed in 2020.

“The next two years are quite uncertain,” Scott said. “Optimistically, the Republican party could rebuild a coalition between the more populist Trump crowd and the moderate traditional Republicans, and the Democratic party could rebuild theirs between the aforementioned groups.”

“From there,” Scott hopes, “we could see some actual compromises and policy being made.” However, not everyone is optimistic about what they see coming in the next two years.

“The most depressing part of this election was watching the presidential race start before the midterms had finished. Because of the large number of Republican candidates in 2016, Trump’s bombastic approach was very effective,” Henry recalls.

“There are even more Democratic candidates running this time [for president in 2020], which means that each candidate will be struggling to stand out.”
Smith predicts that, due to these elections, “we will see ineffective government for the next two years. The only real fights will be when it comes to appropriations bills or investigations.”

“More likely, though, is that both parties will remain dysfunctional, and in the Democrats’ case, may become even more fractured than before,” Scott admitted.

Henry stressed that, while elections are controversial and exciting, people should not get so caught up in politics that they forget other important aspects of their lives: namely, their faith.

“It’s important for Christians to remember that politics should never become a replacement for our faith,” Henry concluded. “Replacing Christ with a politician will inevitably lead to heartbreak.”